Legitimate grant writing consultants don’t…

  • contact your organization by any means (phone, email, fax, etc.) to offer unsolicited services
  • guarantee that they will obtain funds for you; grants are never guaranteed
  • guarantee of when you will receive the funds: obtaining funds is a long-term process that requires commitment and perseverance
  • commission or percentage work: this practice violates the ethics of the grant writing field

You should also keep in mind that foundations do not pay anyone a finder’s fee to attract qualified applicants. And small businesses are generally eligible only for loans, not grants.

Don’t work with any grant writer until they give you their company name, address and phone number, their CEO’s name, and their website URL. Google the company and visit the website. Make sure the information on the website matches the information the person gave you. (Some scammers may refer you to a legitimate grant writer’s website and trust you to dig no further than that.)

Beware of those who sell kits or books but don’t actually write grant proposals. You can’t learn how to write grants by reading a book. And beware of those who claim you can get money for “personal expenses” like paying off credit card debt or starting a business. Grants are never provided for these purposes.

Be suspicious of anyone claiming to be a grant writer who does not list their fee schedule. Legitimate grant writing consultants list their own and apply them generally to the organizations they work with.

Learn how to identify legitimate grant writers

You can find legitimate and effective grant writing consultants…

  • in various professional associations, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the American Grant Writers Association (AGWA), and the National Grant Writers Association (NGW)
  • in niche affiliations, including the Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA), the National Outreach Association (NOC), and the Evangelical Council on Financial Accountability (ECFA)
  • by using search engines, including Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Bing (but be warned: anyone can call themselves a grant writing consultant, regardless of qualifications or background. That’s why you want to make sure you hire one with a documented track record in the field.)

It is also helpful to use a grant writing firm run by a reputable professional. The most respected and accepted credential is the Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). To earn a CFRE, one must meet rigorous requirements and document education, experience, and the highest levels of success.

CFRE International sets those requirements to include:

  • Not less than 5 years of paid employment in the fundraising field;
  • 80 hours or more of education related to fundraising;
  • Ongoing educational and professional development activities;
  • CFRE candidates must earn a certain number of Career Achievement points. Points are earned for specific amounts of funds raised, for public relations and other major communication campaigns, and for strategic planning or organizational management projects;
  • Each CFRE candidate must also earn a minimum of 55 points for public service to professional associations and/or volunteer work with community organizations.

There are telltale signs that separate legitimate grant writing services from scams. Just remember to be careful. Then you will find a consultant who will look after your interests, helping you obtain funds for your ministry or church.

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